I've been looking through 'The Nation's Favourite Animal Poems'recently - mostly ones I'm either familiar with or do not care for at all, but there are 3 I loved (below):
THE ANCIENTS OF THE WORLD by R S Thomas
The salmon lying in the depths of Llyn Llifon,
Secretly as a thought in a dark mind,
Is not so old as the owl of Cwm Colwlyd
Who tells her sorrow nightly on the wind.
The ousel singing in the woods of Cligwri,
Tirelessly as a stream over the mossed stones,
Is not so old as the toad of Cors Fochno
Who feels the cold skin sagging round his bones.
The toad and the ousel and the stag of Rhedynfre,
That has cropped each leaf from the tree of life,
Are not so old as the owl of Cwm Cowlyd,
That the proud eagle would have to wife.
BROCK by Paul Muldoon (born 1951)
he’s not been sighted all winter;
this old brock’s
been to Normandy and back
through the tunnels and trenches
of his subconscious.
His father fell victim
to mustard-gas at the Somme;
one of his sons lost a paw
to a gin-trap at Lisbellaw:
on the Antrim hills’
in a moth-eaten Balaclave.
system of foxholes and duckboards
leads to the terminal mmoraine
of an ex-linen baron’s
where he’s part-time groundsman.
I would find it somewhat infra dig
to dismiss him simply as a pig
or heed Gerald of Wales’
of badgers keeping badger-slaves.
For when he shuffles
across the esker
I glimpse my grandfather’s whiskers
stained with tobacco-pollen.
When he piddles against a bullaun
I know he carries bovine TB
but what I see
is my father in his Sunday suit’s
bespoke lime and lignite
patrolling his now-diminished estate
and taking stock of this and that.
TOAD by Norman MacCaig
Stop looking like a purse. How could a purse
squeeze under the rickety door and sit,
full of satisfaction, in a man’s house?
You clamber towards me on your four corners –
Right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot.
I love you for being a toad,
for crawling like a Japanese wrestler,
and for not being frightened.
I put you in my purse hand, not shutting it,
and set you down outside directly under
A jewel in your head? Toad,
you’ve put one in mine,
a tiny radiance in a dark place.
If anyone has any information about whether the first is entirely the invention ofthe author or scomprised of some traditional Welsh myths, I'd be grateful for information. Or just comments
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/24/2006 04:37AM by marian2.
Animal poems...I wonder if there is a good poem somewhere about a chiuaua.
most i found were pretty horrid.
here's one not so:
Chihuahua - James Grinwis
It’s the greatest desert in North America
as well as the smallest canine ever.
I was hiking the rim of it and when
it belched, a dust storm curled out of
the fathoms. At home, I spend hours
sifting through newsprint,
and folding magazine articles
into paper animals. Chihuahuas
are buoyant in desert environments,
almost like fennec fox—
however, I don't know what the word means.
It could mean smudge, or ice,
or moonstone; something particular
about the desert. Here,
the snow rocks off the shingles
and hits the sidewalk like a belt of teeth.
Sheepdogs and Samoyds fit the north
like oil fits crankshafts, but they don't
smell as such. Out of a blizzard,
they’re huge, ambulatory skunk cabbages.
When the rain goes out of itself it leaves
wind or snow. Dust goes somewhere fast
then nowhere. Tracks in sand
sigh like ice-worms in spring. I was hiking
the rim of the Chihuahuan desert.
I’m not adapted to this environment.
A coyote glued herself to the shade
of a chulla plant. It’s like nailing
a needle with a toothpick. She stared
and opened her mouth. The dust storm
billowed somewhere south and missed us.
The silence fell like a sac of water.
Each step you lose some water.
and here's a link to another:
Marian, you might e-mail the folks here and ask any questions about R.S. Thomas: a[www.cymruarywe.org] />
Thanks for the links on the Owl, Hugh - I'll try and find out more about some of the other myths - if one is traditional, it's likely the others have a traditional basis. Just needed someone to get me started. I'll post any results I find (they are likely to be from books, not the web!).
Thanks, Les, I'll try the R S Thomas site, too, as I know very little about him except that a friend was given Thomas to study for GCE (that long ago!) and the teacher made a mistake and they studied RS instead of Edward. They did poorly in the exam, - luckily there were other texts they had to study, so didn't fail, but she said it was worth it as she much preferred RS's poetry. So I shall read him up.
I love the Werechihuahua poem - thanks for posting the link Johnny. Hope Talia likes it, too.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2006 03:39AM by marian2.
I did like it...who would of thought there is such a good poem about my fierce little "Bonita"?
This site [www.sacred-texts.com] has the legend that seems to be the basis of the poem, but doesn't give a source.
Fascinating - thank you so much, Linda
Yeah, Sacred Texts. Great site. I didn't even think about that one. Well worth spending a few days or more browsing their various pages. They also have a Search facility:
I've found another reference to these sorts of creatures in a book called Celtic Myths and Legends by Rolleston - in the section Myths and Tales of the Cymry:
There's a story of a quest, called 'the tasks of Kilhwch'- a long series of impossible things to be accomplished and one of the latter ones is to find Mabon son of Modron, 'who was taken from his mother when he was three nights old, and it is not known where he is now, whether he is living or dead'. King Arthur's aid is enlisted and someone called Gwrhy asks the Ousel of Cilgwri, who is so old that the smith's anvil on which he was wont to peck has been worn to the size of a nut, yet he has never heard of Mabon. The Ousel takes them to the Stag of Redynvere and so on to the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd and the Eagle of Gwern Abwy, and the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest of all living things and at last they find Mabon imprisoned in the stone dungeon of Gloucester and release him with Arthur's help.
No toad, though. And the Salmon is from a different place, and the age ranking is different.
It seems to me, from this and Linda's site, that similar creatures are used in different Welsh tales to encapsulate extensive searching, particularly through history , at times before there was much access to the written word ie before libraries and museums existed for ordinary people. It's interesting that their relative ages differ in the two accounts.
I shall do a bit more looking.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/26/2006 03:53AM by marian2.
Culhwch (alternative spelling) was given the tasks by the father of the girl, Olwen, that he wanted to marry. The full story is in "The Mabinogion", Jones (trans), Everyman.
I like the Celtic myths. There's one in which a hero has an obligation laid on him, never refuse the offer of a meal and never to eat dog. All goes well until someone offers him a plate of dog stew.
Damn, and it's not like he can even pretend to eat it and then sneak it to the dog !